When you take a trip to an area you’ve never visited before and discover it’s an attractive place to be, sometimes it turns into a “let’s move here” idea. At least, that’s how I felt after spending three days in Charlottesville, Virginia this week.
We just wanted a getaway and picked Charlottesville off the map. But, boy, my wife and I are glad we did. Having never been there, we did a little research and found it’s a good place to visit and to live! Here’s how our Virginia vacation went.
A Charlottesville Vacation, Day 1
On day one, we flew to Richmond, Virginia, and took our rental car for an easy drive over to Charlottesville via I-64. Takes a little over an hour (with one stop at a visitors center along the way).
Upon our arrival, we immediately noticed one big attraction we knew we wanted to visit: Monticello (the home of Thomas Jefferson). We exited I-64 and followed the signs. First, we stopped at the historic Michie Tavern, which offered a buffet lunch and then a tour of the tavern by ladies in period dress. We went ahead and got the Presidential tour package which includes Monticello, Michie Tavern, James Monroe’s home, and James Madison’s home at Montpelier. After eating we took the Michie Tavern tour with a nice lady as a guide. This got us in the right frame of mind for our next stop!
So about 2 pm, we arrived at Monticello which is right up the road from Michie Tavern. This is a popular place and lots of people were coming in from the parking lots. We stopped by the ticket office and immediately got on the bus for the next tour of the home. The bus takes you up to the top of the hill to Monticello. There is a guided tour of several rooms of the home and it has a lot of the items owned by Jefferson and other period pieces that made it look just like it did when he lived there. Thomas Jefferson worked on Monticello for 30 years and made it his unique home. Afterward, we joined a tour of the grounds and made a day of it. I think Monticello was the highlight of our trip!
A Charlottesville Vacation, Day 2
On day two we take the short drive down to the University of Virginia to find the Rotunda designed by Thomas Jefferson. We parked at The Corner, a popular place for students, and just followed them up the hill, overlooking grounds framed by historic buildings. Every hour there is a tour by a student guide starting at the Rotunda. We visited several rooms inside the Rotunda and heard about its amazing history, then go out into the academic village for more of the tour. Afterward, we stop by a student hangout at The Corner for a Coke.
Next, it’s a short drive to the downtown mall, which is an area several blocks long with the main street closed to auto traffic. Sidewalk cafes are all around and we tried one for a delicious lunch! In the afternoon, we drove out to tour the farm of James Monroe which was part of the Presidential homes ticket.
A Charlottesville Vacation, Day 3
On day three we drove out to Montpelier, James Madison’s huge home and farm. It is about 15 miles north of Charlottesville, right off the path to the Blue Ridge Parkway, which we would be visiting that afternoon. We passed many farms on the way. This property was restored by the National Trust, and they have done an excellent, first-class job! There is a large visitors center where we watch a short movie about James Monroe, the father of the US Constitution. Next, we toured the large home and walked the grounds.
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Around noon, we headed East to Shenandoah Park. Tickets are $15, but since I am 62, I was offered the Senior Pass for only $10 – and it is good for the rest of your life! What a deal! We get on the Blue Ridge Parkway and about 9 miles along stop at the Big Meadows Lodge for a nice lunch in their dining room. We enjoyed the views and head back to Charlottesville where we dined that evening at the Boat House.
It was an amazing trip and to see so many things in such a short period of time! Charlottesville is a college town with history and everything you would want, without the traffic of a large city. If you have never visited Charlottesville you need to. You just might want to move there!
Robert FowlerContributing Writer
Robert Fowler is a retired blogger who lives with his wife, Mary Ann at Village at Deaton Creek, a Del Webb Community in North Georgia. Robert was previously the President of Retirement Media Inc. He has visited numerous 55+ Active Adult Communities over the years, sharing his experiences along the way with readers. View more posts